May 21, 2014

State Roundup, May 21, 2014

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SCHOOL START RECOMMENDATION: A state task force voted this week to recommend a post-Labor Day start for Maryland’s public schools, reports Charlene Sharpe for the Salisbury Daily Times. After studying the issue for several months, the 21-member task force created last year voted Monday to recommend to the governor a statewide post-Labor Day school start date.

CENTRAL MD TRANSIT: Public transportation in Central Maryland simply is not finishing the job it starts, a recent study has found. Lizzy McLellan of the Daily Record reports that the final report of the Last Mile Project, prepared by the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, points out some of the shortcomings of public transportation options near Arundel Mills, Fort Meade and the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

AIDING RURAL MD: Josh Bollinger writes in the Easton Star Democrat that last Thursday, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill into law that the Rural Maryland Council says is a step to address disparities in the state’s rural areas. The bill extends the termination date of the governor’s authorization to include money for the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund in the state budget from 2020 to 2030.

FOUNDATIONS PUSH COMMON CORE: A handful of large foundations, including the Gates foundation, Carnegie foundation, Helmsley foundation and Hewlett foundation have collectively spent almost $300 million on the advocacy, development and implementation of the Common Core State Standards, analysis of the foundations’ grant reports reveals, writes Margaret Sessa-Hawkins for MarylandReporter.com. The breakdown of the grants shows that the Gates foundation has given out over $200 million, the Carnegie foundation $47.8 million, Helmsley $20 million, and Hewlett just over $15 million.

BLIND ORG. SUES MD ELECTIONS: The National Federation of the Blind has sued Maryland election officials, charging that their April decision not to approve a system that would make it easier for disabled people to cast absentee ballots privately violates federal law, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

BIZ COMPETITIVENESS: Donald Fry, president & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, takes Center Maryland’s video spotlight to discuss the need for increasing Maryland’s business competitiveness through legislative reform.

SENATE DISTRICT 30:There are a few basic rules to politics, writes Eric Knowles in a candidates column for the Annapolis Capital. These guidelines keep a candidate moving ahead in the safe zone so they do not do anything detrimental to their campaign or risk offending anyone. Far too many politicians have found their way to political victory only to lose the path of real conservatism. Knowles says he will not be one of them.

HOUSE DISTRICT 31B: In the Annapolis Capital’s regular column from the candidates, Gus Kurtz writes that as a lifelong Pasadena resident of over 50 years, he knows that he has the unique qualities that enable him to represent the citizens of District 31B. Growing up in his family’s business, Kurtz’s Beach, he says he was blessed with the opportunity to interact with and communicate with thousands of people over many years.

RE-ELECTED SARBANES: Without much delay, the editorial board for the Gazette endorses the incumbent in the 3rd Congressional District, writing that the infamous scattershot region that includes part of Montgomery County, Rep. John Sarbanes is the most qualified candidate and should win the Democratic nomination.

LOLLAR ON LOLLAR: Bret Jaspers of WYPR-FM profiles GOP gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar, who has been traveling around the state introducing himself and his policies to residents.

GANSLER TARGETS WASTE: Attorney General Doug Gansler’s campaign for governor says in a new commercial that Maryland is squeezing its middle class with new taxes, and that he has identified more than $1.5 billion in state government waste, writes Jeff Barker of the Sun.

NO GANSLER FAN: In an op-ed piece for the Sun, teacher Brenda Payne takes issue with Doug Gansler’s commercial that touts “skills over seniority” in the classrooms and tells the candidate he will not be getting her vote.

BROWN SIDESTEPS WIND QUERY: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown declines to say whether he would have a vetoed a bill that would have delayed — and likely derailed — a proposed wind farm in Somerset County, as Gov. Martin O’Malley did to mixed reviews last week, writes John Wagner for the Post.

ATTY GEN DEBATE: Matt Bush of WAMU-FM runs a story and an audio report about the debate of the Democratic candidates for attorney general – Aisha Braveboy, Brian Frosh and Jon Cardin.

BRAVEBOY ON GAY RIGHTS: Arelis Hernández of the Post reports that, just like President Obama, Maryland Del. Aisha Braveboy, who is running for attorney general, says her position on same-sex marriage has evolved in recent years. She voted for the anti-discrimination bill that passed in the most recent legislative session, expanding protections for transgender people. But that record is not enough for the political blog Seventh State, which recently published a three-part series questioning the 39-year-old attorney’s voting record and commitment to gay rights.

KAMENETZ & THE DEVELOPER: Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports that Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and a prominent developer are funding a campaign chest that can be used to back candidates they support — even as the developer, Caves Valley Partners, is awaiting county approvals to proceed with major projects.

ALEX MOONEY: David Gutman, of the Charlestown Gazette of West Virginia, writes a long profile of Alex Mooney, former head of the GOP for Maryland who is now running for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. Quoted in the article are supporters and detractors of the candidate, many well-known Maryland Republicans.